Live like a local: travel tips for the Algarve from the Irish abroad
The lesser-known Algarve: an Irish woman’s guide to the Portuguese region
The market town of Monchique, in the Sierra de Monchique mountains. Photograph: Joe Daniel Price/Getty Images
Saturday morning Start your weekend in Faro, the capital of the region, planning your day over a bica (espresso) and a pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart) in a pastelaria.
Enter the old walled city through an ornate Christian archway to the Praca da Rainha (Queen’s Square). From there, visit the cathedral – built on the site of what was a Roman temple, then a mosque – before heading to the bishop’s palace.
Saturday afternoon Head to the pretty market town of Monchique (above) in the Sierra de Monchique mountains. Lunch on caldo verde (Portuguese cabbage soup), and maybe prawn or chicken stuffed pastries, in a local cafe.
Saturday night Dinner should include local favourites, such as freshly-grilled sardines served with boiled potatoes (never chips). Sea bass and sea bream are also common and generally served whole. Pork is also popular and you can order whole roasted suckling pig – Leitao – in some traditional restaurants.
Sunday morning The historic Cabo de Sao Vincente, site of several major naval battles, near the town of Sagres, is the most southwestern point in Portugal. Visit the lighthouse or just gaze out to sea from those amazing cliffs.
Leaving Sagres, call in to the eco-resort of Martinhal for a seafood lunch overlooking the beach or a protected natural park.
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